How is Technology Driving the Imaging Community?
By Casey Dye MHA, R. T. Director of Diagnostic Services, Madison Memorial Hospital
In today’s world, we all want things quicker. When we go through the drive through window, we are expecting faster service. When ordering something online, we want it that day. Our Healthcare is no different. We want to know why we hurt and how to fix it before we leave the doctor’s office. In the Imaging community, technology has transformed how Imaging professionals are able to give results to providers in a timelier manner as they increase their focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI), imaging sharing, and hand held devices.
One way imaging is streamlining results to providers is through AI. AI in the imaging world is algorithms set to recognize something abnormal on an individual’s image. In an article titled ‘Artificial intelligence in radiology’, published in Nature Reviews Cancer August 2018 by Hosny, Parmer, Quackenbush, Schwartz, and Aerts they state: “Historically, in radiology practice, trained physicians visually assessed medical images for the detection, characterization and monitoring of diseases. AI methods excel at automatically recognizing complex patterns in imaging data and providing quantitative, rather than qualitative, assessments of radiographic characteristics.” As AI advances, the possibilities of improving efficiency grow expediently. This technology could reduce the workload by segmenting structures, detect hemorrhages while the patient is on the table, or identify a mass in a Chest CT. Although this technology is developing, the outcomes could be outstanding. As Radiologist groups learn how AI can aid their diagnosing on their reports and begin using this technology, physicians will be able to receive results quicker, resulting in the patients understanding why they hurt in a timelier manner.
Another way to streamline information to physicians and other healthcare facilities is through image sharing. The days when an individual would need to go to the hospital to pick up their x-rays to take with them to the doctor’s appointment is over. Although this technology of image sharing has been around for some time now, the older physicians who still requested a hard copy of ones x-rays or a CD are fading as they leave the work force. It is becoming the standard for a facility transferring a patient to receive a higher level of care to share the patient’s images to the receiving facility, allowing physicians to create a plan to treat the patient before they arrive or as even have left the transferring facility. In rural parts of the country, cost plays a huge factor on what a facility can or cannot do. As the healthcare market requires every penny to be accounted for, smaller facilities have begun to find a new way to cut costs. Sharing of ones images can hit ones budget significantly. With advancement in technology though, this barrier is being knocked down. Some small facilities have overcome this obstacle by removing PACs completely out of their facility. This allows for cost savings for them and allows them to pay an entity with a PACs a fee to store their images. This allows these smaller facilities to collaborate and share images within the same PACs system without being the same entity. This also provides access to physicians to see images for their patients in their office who had imaging down in their rural town. This is only possible through this technology of out-of-the- box thinking to have a PACs cloud. This thinking allows for small entities to save money and function like a large organization through this imaging technology.
"Technology has allowed physicians to access their electronic medical records systems securely"
Lastly, hand held devices now have applications for providers to download onto their devices programs allowing them to see their patient’s results of their imaging tests at their fingertips. Technology has allowed physicians to access their electronic medical records systems securely. One can be at diner with their spouse or lying in bed and can find information out about their patient’s urgent results. With a click of a button, they can call and speak with their patient directly about those results from just about anywhere. No longer do physicians need to wait for a faxed report to be sent to their office or come to the imaging department to look at their patient’s images. They can see the report and see the image at the palm of their hand on their device. However, there are some cons to this practice. One drawback from using a hand held device is the screen size. With tech companies striving to have the best resolution on their screens, not all mobile devices are suitable to view images on them. Currently, there are not enough pixels on a handheld device to view the entire chest image. Although, when used in conjunction with the Radiologists report, a physician can see the area of concern most times.
As AL, imaging sharing, and hand held devices continue to advance, the patient is the one who benefits from it the most. Patients are able to receive answers to their health problems quicker. They can begin the next steps quicker to live a happier and healthier life.